Explain hiring movers to me like I'm a juvenile
August 29, 2015 4:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm a grown up who has never hired movers, and I'm finally in the position to do so. Please help me understand all of the intricacies to it so I don't act like a total doofus.

I need to move October 1. It will be a move between two 1-bed apartments in pretty close neighborhoods, in Brooklyn. Current apartment is a 3rd floor walkup and upcoming apartment is garden level duplex. I have some questions:
- How much is a reasonable price to pay? I've found some sites to get bids on, but I don't know what's to expect.
- How far in advance do I need to lock down my mover?
- I have some furniture which I know is going to be annoying to get out of my current building. Am I on the hook for taking it apart and putting it together? Or will movers take care of getting it to a size they can move and put it together?
- How much do you tip, and how do you tip them? Do you go around to each dude giving them cash, orrrrr...?
- Do I just hang out and watch them? I have a cat I know I need to move separately, would it be advisable to move her first or last?
- Any special things I should know about how to pack for movers?
posted by thirdletter to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
We have used movers for both long distance and local moving. I am sure there is a lot that is specific to NYC, though, so I'm only going to address the more general parts of your question.

I have some furniture which I know is going to be annoying to get out of my current building. Am I on the hook for taking it apart and putting it together? Or will movers take care of getting it to a size they can move and put it together?

This, like packing your stuff in boxes and other services, are on the list of options that a full-service moving company will offer -- it is up to you if you want the basic "show up and carry the stuff I have packed and ready" or a more luxurious "pack and prep my stuff while I relax." Obviously the second costs more, both because of the labor and because they are taking the liability of packing and handling. A more basic "two guys and a truck" operation probably won't offer the other services, so this is going to depend on who you are working with.

- How much do you tip, and how do you tip them? Do you go around to each dude giving them cash, orrrrr...?

I don't remember how much we tipped the movers last time, but we did it with cash directly to the dude in charge at the same time we paid the final bill, but in view of the other workers so they knew they had been tipped.

Do I just hang out and watch them? I have a cat I know I need to move separately, would it be advisable to move her first or last?

Each time we used movers, we packed and moved pets, prescription drugs, jewelry, firearms, and laptops ourselves (because I trust the movers, but I don't TRUST the movers); for a local move that is when you can head over to the new place to be there as they arrive. It is not a bad thing if there are two of you so someone can be at the old place to answer any questions, too, and it also depends on how much stuff you have (and how big their truck and crew are) and if there will be one trip or multiple trips to the new place. It also might be a nice idea to have the cat spend the day at a friend's place or at a cat day care because the movers will leave the door open and all the people and noise are stressful.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:14 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't help you with prices, as all the pro moves I've done have been across several states. But here are one guy's answers to the rest of your questions:
  • Earlier is better, particularly if you absolutely need to move on a particular day, and particularly if you need to move near the turn of the month. I'd be making calls now.
  • I've definitely had movers disassemble & reassemble furniture to make their job easier, without my even suggesting it. I think it's a normal part of the process.
  • I usually tipped $10-$20 per person, depending on how annoying the job was. I gave the cash to the head of the crew at the end of the job. (In my cases, that meant a tip to the loaders and a tip to the unloaders a few days later.)
  • The thing about packing is that there's always a little more to do; I always found last-minute things to pack as the movers were loading up. If you're more organized than I was, you could always start on cleaning the rooms of the old apartment as the movers finish with them.
  • The cat will need to be kept out of the way of the movers. When I moved with a cat, I shut her in the bathroom during move-out and move-in; nothing much else needs to be moved into (or out of) there.
  • Movers will stack boxes into higher towers than you thought imaginable. If there are boxes that should not be placed on the bottom of a stack, be sure to label them as fragile (though even that's not a guarantee.) If you're really flush with cash, some moving companies will pack for you as well; the bonus is that they're then liable for any breakage that occurs.

posted by Johnny Assay at 5:15 AM on August 29, 2015




For my last move, I had my Digby stay in "kitty daycare" at our vet just for the day. For me, it was a great decision because:
-He was not underfoot at either place.
-I didn't have to worry about someone letting him out of the bathrooms and people could use the bathrooms.
-I had time to take apart/set up his litter box and other feline things
-I knew there would be stress, but I think it was a lot less stressful for him without the presence and noise of movers.
-He also got his nails clipped - bonus!!!
I dropped him off first thing, moved, and then picked him up after everyone had left. It was nice because I was able to have quiet time to spend with him as he walked around and got used to his new home. If you can't afford it, maybe a friend can take your cat for the day?
posted by NoraCharles at 5:29 AM on August 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


You didn't ask this directly, but I recommend getting personal referrals from friends or coworkers (or even neighbors) for movers. There are obviously tons of moving companies in the city, but you would ideally like to work with one who routinely does moves in your neighborhood(s) so that they're expert with parking rules, one way streets, etc. It might surprise you how many movers try to figure these things out as they go along (while you freak out wondering how it could take hours to drive a mile).
posted by telegraph at 5:41 AM on August 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


1 Get two or three bids from companies recommended by people who have utilized them in the past. 2 Make sure you understand what the agreement is regarding liability for damage...
posted by HuronBob at 6:01 AM on August 29, 2015


Yeah, find a company that either is recommended by friends who have used them or is otherwise reputable. I got screwed over once by some movers who put everything on the truck and then told me it was a bigger job than I had explained over the phone (it wasn't) and they needed to charge me an extra few hundred bucks.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:15 AM on August 29, 2015


I've always boarded my cats for the actual moving day for the reasons NoraCharles states. I would actually say it's a really good idea if your cat is at all shy or nervous; I had a friend who didn't want to spend the $50 to board his and one of them actually suffered pretty severe health problems after, most likely from the stress (he had been perfectly healthy before).

I moved recently (late April 2015) and was really happy with my mover, so if you want a rec, feel free to MeMail.
posted by holborne at 6:51 AM on August 29, 2015


I don't wanna just drop commercial plugs all over the green, so MeMail me if you want a recommendation for movers in Brooklyn. I've used the same company for my last two moves, most recently in March, and I can't recommend them highly enough.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:03 AM on August 29, 2015


I moved this summer, here's my experience:

I called the top-rated local mover in my area on Yelp. They did not do in-person estimates for apartments and had me fill out an online form that listed (among other things) what floor I was on and what floor I was moving to, if there was an elevator, how many boxes I had, a list of furniture that would take more than one person to carry, etc.

Since I had several months to plan this move, I was roughly 90% packed when I called so I had a good handle on the box count. I didn't have much furniture that I was taking with me. I did have a lot of books and art supplies, even after culling and donating, so I had a lot of boxes, well over 200, but these were medium boxes or smaller. I had maybe four large moving boxes for pillows and lamps. This was for a mid-week, mid-month move.

They confirmed the date twice and but never got back to me with an estimate so I found another mover, also on Yelp, five days before the move. The boss was at my apt within 20 minutes to look it over and explained that it would be 4 guys and x number of hours and told me the per hour rate. It actually took slightly less time. The biggest factor was being on the 3rd floor of a Victorian townhouse with unusually high ceilings so lots of stairs including the steep outside steps. I had the option of paying for the move (after it was done) with cash or paying with a credit card, no personal checks, and I had to give him a deposit to confirm the date. The per-hour rate starts when the truck leaves the warehouse not when it arrives at your door.

I found boxes at office supply stores, from people who had previous moves, and bought from U-Haul. I cut handholds with a utility knife in all the boxes that did not have them already. Since I had packed myself, most of the boxes were not "standard", i.e. moving company sizes, I never knew that was a "thing" that facilitates stuffing. I sat on the stoop to keep an eye on the truck. In retrospect, I wish I'd spent some time upstairs as I could hear some...noises. But aside from a couple dents and scratches, nothing was broken. Stuff that either I wasn't moving or was trash, I'd stashed in the closets and sealed the doors with a strip of tape so it didn't accidentally get moved. I had a large canvas tote with me so I could scoop up last minute items or bits that fell off. They wanted to dismantle a couple things but since I'd gotten them up those stairs in one piece, I asked them to try again which they did. They wrapped most of the furniture in shrink wrap to protect it/keep the drawers shut. Everything was stacked against the back wall of the van and then secured with straps. Boxes on the bottom did get crushed a bit with the weight but none of my fragile items were broken.

The movers gave me a lift to the new place (nearby) and the move-in went much faster. I hadn't finalized the layout so I just had them pile everything into the two rooms closest to the stairs. I went back to my old apt a week later to sweep out and do a Goodwill & dump run. I tipped, I found a message board online which had a suggested hourly rate. I gave the head kid the cash and each of them came over to thank me afterwards.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:39 AM on August 29, 2015


I have hired local and long distance movers in NYC and Minneapolis.

- How much is a reasonable price to pay? I've found some sites to get bids on, but I don't know what's to expect.
This really depends on your location, how far you're going, and how much stuff you have. I've paid from a few hundred bucks to a few thousand. Get two or three bids to figure out what is reasonable and which company you like the best. Some of them allow you to enter in an estimated list of your stuff and some will come out to take an inventory in your home (we only did the latter for our long distance move).

- How far in advance do I need to lock down my mover?
Start calling now - you can hardly book too early if you're sure you're moving.

- I have some furniture which I know is going to be annoying to get out of my current building. Am I on the hook for taking it apart and putting it together? Or will movers take care of getting it to a size they can move and put it together?
Depends on who you hire and what level of service you buy. I did everything I could reasonably do myself (like take the bedframe apart) and gave instructions for things I couldn't do (turn the couches over and take the feet off).

- How much do you tip, and how do you tip them? Do you go around to each dude giving them cash, orrrrr...?
I tipped each guy separately, in cash, each time. The amount depended on what they did: take furniture apart/set up, just deliver stuff, did I have an elevator or did they have to go up a bunch of stairs, what was the weather like (once, it was a snowstorm, ugh). I also provided bottled water.

- I have a cat I know I need to move separately, would it be advisable to move her first or last?
Get the cat out of your apartment before the movers show up, or lock her in a room that they won't be going in. The movers will not be watching out for her and they will be propping doors open. Make it easier on everyone by having her reliably out of the way.

Do I just hang out and watch them?
I've done everything from actively helping out (not advised - that's why you're paying!) to cleaning the apartment I'm leaving to hanging out in the truck to keep an eye on my stuff. I would not sit and watch them work.

- Any special things I should know about how to pack for movers?
They will give you some guidelines, especially for electronics. Pack separately and move yourself anything that you are particularly attached to or need the first night in your new place.

FYI, you are generally also responsible for any parking tickets that the truck racks up, although they try to find a legal parking space. Out of all the times I moved, I only got a ticket once, and it was worth it to have the truck double-parked so close to the front of the building.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


You should try to schedule as early as possible during the day, ideally the first job of the day for the movers. As other moves can end up taking longer than the movers expected, it will avoid your having to wait hours beyond the scheduled time of arrival, or even have them not show up at all because the previous moves went long.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:48 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


There maybe be an option to schedule a special parking permit through the city if needed. I'm having movers deliver possessions to me next week - in Oregon - and I'll need to reserve the metered space by the building entrance on move-in day.
posted by bendy at 2:57 PM on August 29, 2015


I can help! I just finished moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn, from a 1 br to a 2 br.

I used Intense Movers and they were really great. They only do business via email, which led me to prod them a few times for quicker responses, but otherwise it went pretty seamlessly and everything turned out great.

I paid $670, but that included a stop at another building in my neighborhood to pick up 1 piece of furniture as well as insurance coverage for the building I was moving into (an additional $40).

I contacted movers a few weeks out, got a few quotes, and made a decision based on that. Now is fine to reach out. You won't have a good estimate of boxes right now (everyone will ask this) but just keep on updating your movers as you pack and get a better sense of what's going on so you can get a better estimate. I'd only use flat-rate movers vs hourly for peace of mind.

In terms of the furniture just let the movers know, it may cost a bit more, but they'll have no problem taking care of it.

I tipped my movers about 20%, but they were A+++ and they seemed very excited about the tip (I just gave it to the foreman to divide), even taking apart my couch to get it around a corner with no extra charge. I helped where I could be helpful (i.e. directing them where to move things) but mostly stayed out of the way.

Good luck, feel free to memail me with any other questions.
posted by jourman2 at 4:28 PM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, so, followup.

I used Intense Movers as I had a bunch of solid recos, and their yelp reviews looked great. I gave them a precise inventory list, and they sent 2 guys.

Well, they fucked up. 2 guys was obviously not enough for the job, especially given that they sent one rookie and one guy who knew what he was doing. Even after they noted several times that a piece of furniture was especially nice, they left it in the hallway while moving something else, bashed into it, and broke it. And it was my bed. Their policy for refunds is a flat 35% of the move. That's not even going to cover the replacement, and now I'm sleeping on the floor.

I don't want to shit talk anybody because they were genuinely nice people, but if you have ANY remotely expensive pieces of furniture, AVOID.
posted by thirdletter at 5:51 PM on October 5, 2015


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